“Networking” and the “Single” Girl

March 4, 2009

in Cheap Expectations

So I promise to post about the cruise soon (perhaps later this evening…after I finally unpack from it…only 2 weeks after returning from it!), but I HAD to share the “networking” event I just returned from.

So, in my quest to be social in my new town in the middle of nowhere, I decided to join the local Young Professionals organization. Something that would help me meet other “young professionals” not working 24/7 at the hospital with my husband and boost my resume at the same time. I actually joined last fall, but most of their events were at inopportune times, or I went with the Big Man.

It should have been a red flag at the last event (bowling) when I learned two things:
1. By “Young Professionals” they did not mean anyone in their, lets say 20’s-30’s, but had rather broader, more generous terms. I.E. anyone not dead.
2. When in the presence of a DOCTOR, you will become immediately insignificant and uninteresting. HE is the PROFESSIONAL – regardless of the fact that YOU are the one paying dues and have a sometimes fulfilling career of your own to compliment your own degrees/student loans.

But, having only one friend in the area who will be moving away this Spring, I decided to soldier on and attend tonight’s networking event. Alone.

I’ll admit – I was on the fence about going. My hair is flat from constantly trying to smooth down the static cling effects of Ohio winter, and I’m a bit tired after running around all day in my job – not exactly in the perfect “I AM the cool crowd” mood that I learned so well from Maureen. However, you don’t meet new friends sitting at home – so off I went.

First, let me be very clear. The event was described as a NETWORKING event, with a cash bar, during the dinner hours. What does this lead you to expect? Perhaps appetizers, maybe even dinner, and people looking to meet other people with whom they have not previously interacted? This interpretation of the English language was reinforced by the “icebreaker” game they had where you were to find others of certain professions to write on a raffle ticket.

After checking in and paying my $50 dues for the year (yes, this may be a small town, but we believe in big city prices) I grabbed a glass of Chardonnay and plunged in.

It was like diving head first into the shallow end of the pool. Or being the new kid in middle school when everyone else has known each other since kindergarten. Because everyone here has known each other since kindergarten.

The first group I joined consisted of 2 girls, looking to be around my age-ish, and a guy. Waiting for the opening in the conversation, I introduced myself, going around the group and ending on the guy. OOPS. Apparently, I had just saved the girls from further conversation with this man. Not that he wasn’t perfectly nice, but as SOON as I turned to introduce myself to him, they took the momentary distraction to disappear. Had I been paying attention to my peripheral vision, I’m sure I would have seen smoke coming off of their heels. Perhaps my fantastic sweater in royal blue intimidated them? Maybe my “Hello!” was a bit too forward?

Oh Well. After talking with the guy for a bit (who is also in the non-profit business, but for unemployed people – needless to say he’s glowing about how well they’re doing right now), I decide to jump in the social pool again – feet first this time.

It has now become obvious that there are two types of people here. The ones who have come together and are very interested in networking with their carpool buddy, and the guy floating on the edge of the only group of single, attractive girls, resisting the temptation to pull a comb through his greased-back hair.

This time, I make eye contact with a woman in the next group over and decide to take this as an invitation to join in. I make it through the introductions, learning I’ve now joined a banker and her client/secret lover. After dodging a hard-core pitch to immediately drop my current bank and sign up with hers, the organizers of tonight’s “networking” event break in for some announcements.

There is the usual calendar of upcoming events, people plugging their various businesses and charities (I resisted the urge to cry out “BUY A SHAMROCK!), and then the “reminder” that we can get 20% off of our bill tonight.

Excuse me?

20% off my bill?

What happened to free appetizers? What part of “This is a free event, although there will be a cash bar available for alcoholic beverages” said 20% off?

I am sorry, but my dignity does have a price. And 20% off just isn’t going to cut it.

Which leaves me here, back at home, eating my delicious FREE chicken philly and wondering. How, as the new adult in town, am I supposed to actually make friends??


Domesticated Gal March 30, 2010 at 9:48 pm

Thanks for the tip – great site!

Donna March 30, 2010 at 7:23 pm

Take a look at Meetup.com!

The Stiletto Mom March 10, 2009 at 2:04 am

Gah. Good luck…I have never had much luck with professional networking events, and am now too tired to even try them again!!!

an undomestic goddess March 6, 2009 at 12:16 am

hmmm…can you teach me to knit anything other than a scarf? My Oma keeps trying to teach me, but I’ve apparently got the memory of a gnat.

Allison March 5, 2009 at 3:01 pm

I could teach you to knit. I am sure there is a knitting group around you…I’ve met all sorts of crazy/fun/different than me type of people.

I highly doubt that Jason is really that interesting. :)

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